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ECONOMY > Agriculture

Supporting large-scale farmers through agricultural reform

  • December 23, 2016
  • , Nikkei , p. 6
  • JMH Translation

The agriculture, forestry and fisheries-related budget was reduced by two billion yen from last fiscal year to 2,307.1 billion. The reduction is mainly due to the smaller workforce. The actual operating budget rose from the previous year with emphasis placed on public works such as land improvement and agricultural engineering projects that got a 20 billion yen increase to 402 billion yen.

 

As agricultural engineering budgets were significantly reduced during the DPJ administration, Diet members affiliated with farm organizations have been working to gain them back. The sum of FY17 initial budget and FY16 supplementary budget is equivalent to pre-DPJ budget levels. While the Farm Ministry   advocates improving public projects such as water channels to enhance agricultural competitiveness, during the 1990s funds were misappropriated for projects having little to do with agriculture. Effectiveness of services must be evaluated to avoid doling out of money.

 

There will also be emphasis placed on helping motivated farmers gain access to farmland. The operating budget for an initiative called the “farmland bank” run by the Farmland Intermediary Management Institutions will be increased by 7.4 billion to 15.5 billion yen. Under this initiative regional farmland is consolidated and leased to large-scale farmers. Subsidies to help youths transition into agricultural employment rose 900 million yen to 20.2 billion yen.

 

The continuing drop in consumers’ demand for rice also calls for immediate attention. 1.5 billion yen has been earmarked for the support of new initiatives that allow rice farmers to grow vegetables in their rice paddies by equipping them with specialized farm machinery. Moreover, direct payment grants increased 7.2 billion yen to 315 billion yen to encourage growing rice to feed livestock in order to maximize rice fields amidst the dwindling  demand for rice as a Japanese dietary staple.

 

The forestry industry, whose industrialization has lagged, is also being considered. Over a dozen regions designated forestry revenue enhancement zones that promote timber branding will share a budget of 1 billion yen. The fisheries industry also received generous funding to improve fishing ports.

Line Item

Budgeted

Enlarging farmland zones and improving farm roads

402 billion yen

Assisting rice production for livestock feed

315 billion yen

Helping youths transition into agricultural jobs

20.2 billion yen

Consolidating farmland for large-scale farmers

15.5 billion yen

Improving the harsh working conditions of dairy farmers

6 billion yen

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